Saturday, 13 December 2008

A matter of 100 percent reduction

Today in the Sydney Morning Herald is an article about what sort of levels of greenhouse emissions reductions are required by the various nations of the OECD to deal with the threat of global warming.

Back at the time of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol I accepted the consensus of generalised cuts, but today as I observe runaway climate change all though Australia and no efforts to reduce the emissions of both the most fragile ecology and the worst per-capita polluter, I have gradually come to the conclusion that climate scientists have been taking the wrong tactic all along.

What textbooks on plant diversity I read when a student at Melbourne University clearly show is:
1) much of Europe and North America is of negligible conservation value as its flora is entirely recent and postglacial

2) perhaps the single most critical area in the world is southwestern Australia, already threatened by climate change and predicted future declines in rainfall

3) as Tom McMahon points out, Australia and subequatorial Africa have much more sensitive ecological and hydrological systems than the rest of present-day Earth owing to their extremely old soils that were formed during the previous ice age during the Carboniferous.

It is because of these facts that I strongly believe international conservation bodies need a narrower focus on regions of major biological importance. So limited is the actual conservation value of the most sustainable states such as Scandinavia and the Netherlands that I believe people in those countries are not aware they do much less to control global warming and other ecological problems by reducing their own emissions than by investing in and/or lobbying for radical conservation measures in Australia. As I see it, the key issue for global warming is Australian emissions, since fertility rates in the “Asian Tigers” are even lower than in Europe, whilst in Australia they are (relatively) high and rising due to low housing and transport fuel costs, which mean there is little incentive for any emissions reductions.

Instead of a protocol for generalised reductions in emissions, what should have been done was a call for absolute one hundred percent reduction in Australian emissions without any reduction required elsewhere. Such a move would have placed Australia’s emissions and energy prices on an ecologically equitable footing with the rest of the OECD, rather than with the ability to by itself radically alter the global climate even as other nations both developed and developing reduce their emissions.

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